January 22, 2002
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners held a Special Called Meeting on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 in the Commissioners Room of the Alexander County Courthouse, Taylorsville, North Carolina.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Joel Harbinson called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Rev. Gary Jennings, former Pastor of East Taylorsville Baptist Church, gave the invocation and Katie Bowman, student at West Middle School and granddaughter of Rev. Jennings, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
Chairman Harbinson presented the designation of Alexander County Chaplain to Rev. Gary Jennings and stated that this was the first time in the history of Alexander County that this designation had been given. Chairman Harbinson stated that he remembered when Rev. Jennings first came to Alexander County from Tennessee and noted that he gave a pre-game prayer once when Chairman Harbinson played football for Alexander Central High School. Chairman Harbinson also stated that his father, a Lutheran Minister, and Rev. Jennings, a Baptist Pastor, were very close friends. Chairman Harbinson explained that his father had requested that Rev. Jennings preach his funeral, which he did. Chairman Harbinson stated that, for this and many other reasons, Rev. Jennings meant a lot to him.
Commissioner Robertson stated that Rev. Jennings had been active in the community, fire department, and several civic organizations his whole life. Commissioner Robertson conveyed his appreciation to Rev. Jennings for living the message that he preached for 30 years as an example to the citizens of Alexander County.
Commissioner Watts stated that the first time he met Rev. Jennings was the day that his good friend, Bob Gryder, was killed during the summer of 1973. Commissioner Watts stated that he had went in to work that day at the WSTH radio station and saw Rev. Jennings there in the office talking to the secretary. Commissioner Watts stated that Rev. Jennings had changed quite a bit since then and conveyed his appreciation to Rev. Jennings for his 30 years of service to the community.
Commissioner Odom stated that Rev. Jennings had been a fire fighter for many years and had seen many tragedies and losses along the way. Commissioner Odom stated that on many occasions Rev. Jennings would console the fire fighters after returning to the fire department. Commissioner Odom stated that Rev. Jennings was a great mediator and was always willing to listen.
Commissioner Hammer stated that Rev. Jennings had always did what was best for mankind regardless of denomination. Commissioner Hammer also conveyed his appreciation to Rev. Jennings for his service and concern for the citizens of Alexander County.
Commissioner Harbinson urged Rev. Jennings to attend events and spread his ministry using the title of Alexander County Chaplain.
Rev. Jennings stated that he did not expect such a designation, that he had enjoyed serving 30 years as a pastor, and that Alexander County was not just a county, but was a community. Rev. Jennings thanked the Board for this recognition.
The following information was discussed during the Chairmans Report:
Commissioner Watts stated that he was glad to lend a helping hand and congratulated Sara on her acceptance.
ABC BOARD REQUEST
Frankie Watts, ABC Board President, discussed the ABC funds for Alexander Community Hospital which totaled $5,865.03. Mr. Watts stated that due to the closing of the hospital, the ABC Board could do the following with the ABC funds designated for the hospital.
Mr. Watts stated that the ABC Board had unanimously voted to ask the Board of Commissioners to turn the funds over to the Town since the ABC store is located within the Town limits. Mr. Watts also noted that next year the funds would be divided among all receiving entities.
Commissioner Robertson noted that a portion of the funds went to Foothills for substance abuse treatment and felt that the county did benefit from the ABC funds.
Chairman Harbinson suggested tabling this issue since it had never been brought up before to allow time for the County Manager to research and gather more information in order to make a more informed decision.
Commissioner Watts agreed and stated that county staff had had no contact with the Town regarding this issue. Commissioner Watts also stated that he would like to see a breakdown as to what entities received ABC funds and how much they received.
Commissioner Odom felt that the funds should be turned over to the Town because the ABC store is located within Town limits and because the Town leased space to the ABC store.
Commissioner Robertson asked if there was time limit on this issue. Mr. Watts stated that there was not but that the ABC Board would like to have the issue resolved as soon as possible.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to table this issue until the February 12th meeting allowing time for the County Manager to research and gather more information on the issue. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULING OPTIONS
Sylvia Turnmire, Director of Planning & Development, stated that the number of rezoning cases would increase due to the adoption of countywide zoning and explained that the General Statutes require that public hearings are advertised for 2 weeks. This could delay the rezoning process taking 45-60 days. Currently, the Planning & Zoning Commission and Board of Commissioners hold separate public hearings with the Board of Commissioners having authority to approve or deny a rezoning request.
Ms. Turnmire suggested holding joint public hearings between the Planning & Zoning Commission and Board of Commissioners. After the public hearing, the Planning & Zoning Commission would reconvene in another room to make a recommendation. The Planning & Zoning Commission would then reconvene with the Board of Commissioners and give the recommendation. The Board of Commissioners would then vote to approve or deny the rezoning requests. Ms. Turnmire stated that Lincoln and Gaston Counties had handled their rezoning hearings jointly and that it had cut the time frame in half.
Ms. Turnmire also addressed the issue of text amendments which also require public hearings. Ms. Turnmire stated that public hearings for text amendments could be held jointly or could remain separate between the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Board of Commissioners.
Ms. Turnmire also stated that if the Board of Commissioners agreed to hold joint public hearings with the Planning & Zoning Commission, an amendment would need to be made to the Zoning Ordinance. Ms. Turnmire stated that there were a couple of amendments that were needed to the Zoning Ordinance including regulations for private cemeteries and miniwarehouses. Ms. Turnmire stated that the regulations were simply overlooked when the ordinance was completed.
Commissioner Robertson asked how many were public hearings for rezoning cases were held last year. Ms. Turnmire stated that there were 5 rezoning cases last year and 2 rezoning cases so far this year. Commissioner Robertson stated that he wasnt convinced that joint public hearings were needed or that the process would work better or save time. Commissioner Robertson also felt that several ordinances needed revision including the Subdivision Ordinance, Mobile Home Ordinance, and the Zoning Ordinance.
Commissioner Hammer agreed that the rezoning process took too long and stated that 60 days was too long to have to wait in the case of a property sale.
Chairman Harbinson suggested discussing these issues at the Annual Retreat scheduled for February 1-2, 2002 at the Hidden Crystal Inn. Rick French, County Manger, suggested that this discussion take place first during the County Projects discussion on Friday morning, February 1, 2002. The Board agreed.
Commissioners Robertson and Watts discussed the Community Grants project for Alexander County. Commissioner Robertson stated that the Board wanted to provide a match to volunteer groups working to improve communities and noted that the grants would be used for projects to improve the appearance or quality of life in communities. The grants will total $1,000 per community.
The Board reviewed the Community Grants materials. Commissioner Robertson stated that the Sugar Loaf Community was not listed and should be added to the list of communities in Alexander County.
Commissioner Watts discussed the point system and stated that it had been developed as a standardized system so everyone would use the same point scale. Commissioner Watts also felt that points should be added for the anticipated life of community projects. For example, a certain number of points would be awarded for projects lasting 0-5 years, 6-10 years, 10 plus years, etc. Commissioner Watts pointed out that the deadline for applications listed in the materials was March 15, 2002 and requested that that date be changed to March 31, 2002. Commissioner Watts also requested that the Board discuss the grants to be awarded at the May Commissioners Meeting instead of the February Commissioners Meeting as written in the material.
It was noted that a community grants project was first pursued in 1992. Mr. Norris Keever, a county commissioner at that time, commented on the grants project and stated that they also appropriated $1,000 for 12 communities but ended up with total projects totaling $50,000.
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the community grants project for a match of $1,000 per community and distribute the information to the public. Commissioner Robertson seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
BOARD APPOINTMENTS / REAPPOINTMENTS
Chairman Harbinson presented the following appointments:
Appoint Helen Anthony
Commissioner Watts made a motion to approve the appointments as presented. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
The following information was discussed during Other Business:
Commissioner Robertson suggested authorizing the Library Board to change meeting times from now on without the approval of the Board of Commissioners.
Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the Western North Carolina Local Government Caucus Resolution, the Rescue Squad Contract, and the amendment to the Library Board Bylaws. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
CLOSED SESSION N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5) CONTRACTUAL
Commissioner Watts made a motion to enter into Closed Session at 8:00 PM to discuss contractual matters pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5). Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
LEASE AGREEMENT FOR BETHLEHEM PROPERTY
Upon returning to Open Session, Commissioner Odom made a motion to enter into the terms of the lease agreement for the Bethlehem property which includes a lease of 4,100 square feet at $3,000 per month for 5 years. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion.
Commissioner Hammer requested an amendment to the motion to include a renewal option as well as an opt out clause in the lease agreement for the Bethlehem property. Commissioner Robertson made a motion to approve the amendment as requested. Commissioner Hammer seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Odom made a motion to enter into the lease agreement with the renewal option and opt out clause included. Commissioner Watts seconded the motion. The Board voted 4 for the motion (Commissioners Hammer, Harbinson, Odom, and Watts) and 1 against the motion (Commissioner Robertson). Motion carried.
There being no further business, Commissioner Robertson made a motion to adjourn at 8:45 PM. Commissioner Odom seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Joel C. Harbinson, Chairman Jamie C. Millsaps, Clerk to the Board